Monday, January 19, 2004

Is it as it was?

First, Peggy Noonan reported in the wall Street Journal that Mel Gibson had screened his embattled film The Passion of the Christ for the Pope, who supposedly liked the film -- which has raised all kinds of controversy for being potentially anti-Semitic -- and said of the depiction of the Crucifixion: "It is as it was." Yesterday Frank Rich questioned this holy endorsement: "... the marketing of this film remains a masterpiece of ugliness typical of our cultural moment, when hucksters wield holier-than-thou piety as a club for their own profit." The Pope now appears to be backing off -- a little, anyway:

One prominent Roman Catholic official close to the Vatican said today, "I have reason to believe -- and I think -- that the pope probably said it."

"But I think there's some bad feeling at the Vatican that the comment was used the way it was," the official added. "It's all a little soap-operatic."

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